Jul 06, 2022 10:23 PM
ozytopians classify fiction after interworld contact
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Bicameral

The slice-of-life novel feels to Nela like it ought to get an imprimatur, because of the richness and depth and accuracy with which it explores people's mental health issues, relationship problems, and coping mechanisms. However, it seems kind of weird to give it an imprimatur because... none of these are problems that Nela expects anyone to have at all... in fact the concept of the Teachingsphere having a Chaos makes Nela need to lie down in a quiet room for a couple of hours. She eventually gives it a nihil obstat with a note that she's worried it will make people try to acquire Chaotic personalities and if that happens they are going to need to crack down on imports from Bicameral. 

Weird novella gets a nihil obstat because Nela can't figure out what's happening in it and would frankly be impressed if someone managed to figure out what was happening enough to be inspired to rape people by it. 

The hard science fiction novel about biology gets an imprimatur for teaching about biology, the scientific method, and the necessity of communicating with alien people instead of just assuming that they are not people. There is no such thing as enough teaching that you need to communicate with alien people instead of just assuming they're not people. Nela has read several books about factory farming and she is very firm on this fact. 

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Maggieverse

Secret spatial physics textbook gets an imprimatur for teaching about spatial physics. Somehow this is, in fact, a tag which already exists in the system. 

Is the abduction-by-secret-magical-beings-and-gangrape book content-warned for kink because the protagonist enjoys being gangraped by magical beings, or because the reader is intended to jerk off to it, or what?

Will-They-Or-Won't-They Probably-The-Author's-Fetish book gets an imprimatur for healthy relationships and being supportive while working through your emotional issues. 

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Proliferationverse

The proliferationverse has a very strange view of the logos, but Nela stamps it with an imprimatur. She's actually kind of puzzled by how little devotional material she's gotten. Presumably it's all over in nonfiction. They plan to give an imprimatur to anything that is recognizably about the logos. The viewpoints of other worlds may be heretical, but there's no reason on principle to assume that they're heretical and the Teachingsphere isn't, and so due to epistemic humility they must be published. 

The cute story about snails gets an imprimatur for being a good thing to read when you're really sad and want something cheerful and low-stakes to make you feel better. 

...okay, so, the alien ruins story is odd, and Nela isn't really sure if a species committing collective suicide and that being understood as basically a good thing should lead to something being denied a nihil obstat...? This has never come up in the Teachingsphere before, as far as Nela knows. After spending a few days digging through caselaw, she eventually concludes that it has in fact never come up before, and decides that in her personal opinion this should lead to the book being denied a nihil obstat, because people might decide to take matters into their own hands as regards humanity's collective suicide. But she expects this to come up more often. 

The fantasy octet is given no nihil obstat because you can't go around writing books that say that your death is so beautiful it makes your life worth it. Come on. For fuck's sake. That's going to result in mass suicide! Nela writes the author and informs them that she thinks that the series is going to result in people committing suicide in the hopes that their death will be so beautiful that it makes their life worth it, and if given this information they want to withdraw the book from publication they are welcome to do so. Also, when this inevitably happens, they won't be allowed to publish any more books in the Teachingsphere.

The slice-of-life comedy gets an imprimatur for how educational it is about all the things that adults need to learn how to do. Some of the details are different from the way they are in the Teachingsphere, but that's fine, the basics are all pretty similar. 

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An Interlude Concerning Fanfiction 

The way that webfiction of various sorts-- including text, video, and podcast-- is regulated in the Teachingsphere is that all websites that host fiction are required to either pay a fee to have each work of fiction certified nihil obstat*, or to pay a small tax per user. In order to cover hosting costs, development costs, taxes, and profit, all webfiction hosting websites charge their users. Because they have to pay with a debit card**, it is easy to verify that users are over the age of sixteen and legally allowed to consume fiction without a nihil obstat, and that writers haven't been banned from publishing their fiction. Free webfiction still exists, but if it gets sufficiently popular the fiction-hosting companies generally report it to the government themselves; after all, it cuts into their own profits.  

While different webfiction hosting companies have different policies, the most popular is willing to host everything that is not illegal, as long as it is properly tagged. As such, it is full of depraved porn, romance novels with abusive love interests, extremely cool terrorists who are destroying the Bad People so it's fine, and books about committing genocide against orcs. 

...The Teachingsphere doesn't in fact have any way to enforce the Aevylmarchers' rules on fanfiction, nor would they be using those resources on fanfiction enforcement when they could be using them on making it harder to get books about how fun it is committing genocide against orcs. And a huge percentage of the population is going to see those rules, with no enforcement mechanism and no obvious reason why they should follow them, and go "FUCK YOU YOU'RE NOT MY MOM" and specifically write fanfiction in the exact ways they were told not to.  

Nela writes them a letter explaining these facts and asking whether they want to export fiction, given these constraints. 

*The fee is also charged for conventionally published fiction but has been waived for alien fiction. 
**The Teachingsphere, for the obvious reason, doesn't have credit cards. 

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... The Aevylmarchers debate this. Obviously it would provoke an international crisis if aliens were pirating* their fiction, but aliens aren't so much pirating their fiction as warning them that piracy might occur due to alien laws being different from local laws. The Alien Trade Coordination Board passes the message down to the original authors.

The author of the first book is prepared to accept publication without fanfiction control in exchange for extra money, which a charity of fans trying to avert the tragedy of people who would like the book not reading it puts up. The author of the second book is unwilling to compromise on his control of the depiction of a minor supporting character as asexual and withdraws it from consideration. The author of the third's code was 'do whatever, just pay me ten percent of the fanfiction profits' and he's willing to give up those since the Ozytopians lack the state capacity to collect it, and he thinks that's a very noble and virtuous sacrifice of theirs that should be encouraged. The author of the fourth initially refuses, but is prepared to be talked into it For The Good Of Society when her husband promises to censor all the fan mail she gets from Ozytopia so she doesn't need to learn about any shipping she wouldn't approve of. (The authorial note will be removed, since it will be counterproductive, says her husband, who is handling this for her because discussing the entire concept gives her stresscollapsedays** and he's in the eightieth percentile for the Virtue of Resilience.)

(*: Lit: "Benefitting from the goodness of another who agreed to provide that goodness only under certain terms in defiance of the terms and where you have the power not to do so in areas where the socially-agreed upon law has decided that they have the right to enforce their wishes." A one-syllable word in most languages.)

(**: Two syllables.)

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...the Teachingsphere actually has all this infrastructure for determining whether the publication of a book is expected to advance The Good Of Society and is happy to publish certain books only on the condition that it gets an imprimatur or a nihil obstat, if that would make people feel better about not being able to control the shipping. 

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... Huh, that's cool. Aevylmarchers assume that all fiction is either zero-effect or advances The Good Of Society by default just because people can just put down bad fiction, but aliens are aliens. Sure, why not?

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(The protagonist isn't zero conflictedly into it, but the narrative still portrays her as unambiguously Wronged; it's definitely labeled as kinky for being fap material.)

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The person submitting the magical-construct book writes back that the story overall is generally viewed as a heavyhanded metaphor about weighing the relative importance of the near-term and far-term consequences of your actions; the magical constructs themselves are not generally understood as a metaphor for anything in particular, although there are some common fan theories ([1] [2] [3] [4]) about problems that they Could Totally Be An Analogy For.

The author of the terrorism book is so concerned about people being inspired to do murders! They had sort of been assuming that anyone whose ethical system would indicate they should do murders was already aware of this fact but maybe aliens are different. If Nela thinks it's likely that people are going to do murders if they read this book then probably it shouldn't be published in the Teachingsphere? How likely does Nela think that is, is this mostly a precautionary thing or a major concern?

The science fiction webcomic's author is sort of confused by what sexual harassment is or why anyone would ever do it but 'cultural differences with aliens' are something well within their ability to understand and if the webcomic is depicting things the aliens are uncomfortable with it's not like they can stop them from being uncomfortable with it.

 

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Maggieverse

The book is marked no-nihil-obstat for people being even conflictedly into being gangraped.

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Tree

Nela gives the magical construct book an imprimatur for being a thoughtful exploration of weighing the long-term and short-term negative consequences of your actions.

In the Teachingsphere's experience, people are much more likely to do acts of terrorism if they are exposed to narratives which suggest that it's all right to do terrorism; it's possible that it'd be fine but Nela wouldn't bet on it herself. The author can pull it from publication if they want. 

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Aevylmarch

Nela reads the surviving three books! The spacehistory-romance-tragic novel is, after some reflection, gets an imprimatur for its psychologically realistic description of trying to live the moral life within a culture that makes the moral life impossible to live. She thinks it will probably help people have more empathy for Ozytopians living outside the Teachingsphere. 

The happyending-fluffpower-adventurer novel is denied a nihil obstat for the amount of glamorous crimes that the protagonist commits. Admittedly, he is responsible for the existence of the monsters, which could maybe be understood as a narrative understanding that you shouldn't go around committing crimes no matter how cool they are, but committing crimes also isn't really the thing he's being redeemed for? Anyway, no nihil obstat, sorry Aevylmarchers.

The historicaldisrespect-gameworld-scheme-government-bitterending novel is denied a nihil obstat because it involves a lot of very glorious heroic duels, even though glorious heroic duels are in fact Bad. It probably doesn't deserve to be denied a nihil obstat, but it seemed like the author was really upset about the possibility of people writing fanfiction about it, and Nela feels like if the author is that distressed by the concept of fanfiction she's really not inclined to give the book the benefit of the doubt. It's not like it's going to be actively good for society for people to be reading about glamorous heroic duels, anyway. What if they decide to duel each other.

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Firstplanet

The fanfiction multiversal conference is given a nihil obstat, except for the grimdark AU which is straightforwardly abusive, which is denied a nihil obstat for being somewhat too horny about the concept. Nela is glad that these were conveniently written so as to be separable! A summary of the grimdark AU can be attached at the end of the book so that no one feels like they're missing anything. 

Mars base story gets an imprimatur for its detailed discussion of the importance of base infrastructure, which is liable to encourage people to research and vote on all relevant committees instead of just the ones that end up getting covered in scandalous podcasts. (They do of course pay people to study up before they vote, but more encouragement to do relevant research on your own is always welcome.) No one understands the importance of infrastructure, in Nela's opinion. One of her hymns was in fact about how cool bridges are. 

The terraforming puzzle game gets an imprimatur for being a secret physics textbook. 

The translated historical drama gets an imprimatur for teaching people about values dissonance and helping people to understand different ideologies as they were understood in the past. Nela writes back that she's not sure how to assess how popular it's going to be, but most of the work they have from Firsplanet is nothing like that at all and she doubts that it's going to be a problem; if Firstplanet is very concerned, they can imprimatur anything that seems like it is a good representation of Firstplanet culture? They've been talking about doing that anyway. 

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An extremely fluffy romance novella about an architect who designs buildings that reference other historical buildings as a love letter to an estranged friend, who ze expects will never notice or care, except the friend turns out to have also found a drivingpassion in architecture and the main character only realizes when ze notices that someone is designing buildings in reply. The novella ends on the two reconciling, agreeing to enter an creativepartnership, and starting to plan a project together; this is implied by the narrative to be basically equivalent to a wedding. The architecture is lovingly illustrated, and if you read the acknowledgements, it's fairly clear that the book itself is a love letter to the author's lifepartner, who is an architect.

A middle-grade tragic fantasy novel about a young engineer who, in the quest to create the world's first teleporter, alienates nearly everyone ce cares about and accidentally kills first cir lab partner and then cir best friend in recklessness-driven lab accidents. The magical engineering is very obviously a metaphor for the protagonist's declining mental state as isolation drives cem more and more desperate; the novel ends when ce eventually creates the teleporter and, as has been fairly heavily foreshadowed in the discussions of magical theory leading up to this point, the vacuum it creates destroys the lab and the engineer alike. 

A classic genre-bender fantasy trilogy! The first book is a tragedy about a sorcerer whose ambition drives lir to amass more and more power at greater and greater costs, including starting a cult, hurting people in a wide variety of ways including rape and torture and murder, and eventually culminating in the execution of lir lifepartner; lir perspective is mostly about the intriguing li does with lir competition for power but the atrocities are very carefully never portrayed as glamorous. The second is a posttragedy which opens just after the execution and follows the sorcerer's nervous breakdown from grief and lir life falling into shambles as li desperately pretends to everyone li knows that nothing is wrong, while trying and largely failing to cope with the loss of lir partner and the fact that lir child-- the one good thing left in lir life-- is even so a symbol of everything li'd done wrong in the first book, since li'd raped someone in order to get pregnant; until the climax, when the sorcerer abandons everything li'd built and the entire exercise of power-seeking, runs away to a different continent, and starts to a new life there where nobody has ever heard of lir. The third is a postposttragedy in which li raises lir child, pulls lirself slowly out of the nervous breakdown pit by the fingernails, repeatedly expresses the desire for being a good person to involve something easy like incredibly painful suicide instead of something hard like successfully not abusing your child when all your interpersonal skills are for power-jockeying, and relearns how to be a person who interfaces with society in a way that isn't fundamentally about hierarchy. It was extremely popular when it first came out and was one of the major genre codifiers of posttragedy and postposttragedy. 

A personal-biography of a programmer who was lifepartners with a marine biologist; the two had been working together on an ocean exploration game, but the marine biologist died of stomach cancer before it could be completed and ser partner continued making it in ser honor. The biography is focused on how the programmer used the creative process to cope with ihr grief both before and after ihr partner's death. (The game is included โ€” there's enough of a storyline that they sent it to Fiction, you swim through underwater ruins and piece together what happened to the people who built them, which is probably a question with an answer if you're familiar with motifs in Tisan historical art and tilework but honestly the game works fine if it remains a mystery โ€” and it isn't as good as the book but it's very calming to play and the visuals are Like Fine if you're not used to malachitinous games with a dev team of "more than one." The marine life is impeccably researched and accurate-to-Neptune.)

This one... is porn. At least it's probably porn? It's honestly kind of hard to tell whether it's porn, because on the one hand it's approximately 70% sex scene by volume; but on the other hand all of the sex scenes are full of characterization and political intriguing, every character has a distinct voice and worldview and a history that's shaped them as a person, it's historical fiction set in a trade school in 1300s Callassa where it's period for so many of the main cast's relationships to involve sex, and also there's multiple romances of varying levels of sweetness and an exquisitely done depiction of a major character's internal moral conflict over whether or not to inform on faer lover/best friend who's involved in a smuggling ring. Possibly these are just normal features of malachitinous pornography???

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This author does not particularly want to risk people going and being terrorists over their book. They will go ahead and not have it published in Ozytopia, they're just going to be kind of sad about it.

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A short story collection on the theme of censorship and secrecy being a fundamentally hostile attitude for a government to take towards its citizens. Stories include a metaphor about refusing sex education to children while self-servingly rationalizing about it, parables about the apparatus of censorship metastasizing to encompass things their well-intentioned creators never intended, someone escaping a cult (it seems to be some kind of linguistic prescriptivism and also sex cult) and learning to trust that the wider world does not systematically mislead them about anything, an attempt at keeping information that seemed to have triggered psychosis in a character's mother away from that character in the hopes that she will not suffer the same psychosis only for her to succumb to a psychotic episode anyway that's substantially worsened by the fact that everybody's been hiding things for her entire life, and aliens discovering that their taboo about discussing certain topics has been holding them back catastrophically in magical engineering in ways that would not have been foreseeable at the time the taboo was instituted.

Not-quite-fiction about human (well, Green) evolutionary biology with an emphasis on fictionalized-anonymized nifty case studies from obscure insular cultures and some completely whole cloth just-so suppositions, supporting or in tension with this or that theory.

Novel series in which a villain, shaped both by the traumatic circumstances of her childhood and the subtle but forceful consequences of the ways she has used her magic since then to survive, brings up several kids younger than her whom she managed to save from the aforementioned traumatic circumstances when someone went through their home and killed them all for what are remarkably understandable reasons given the givens. There's layers and layers like that, in several different places, every resolved conflict just peeling back a bit of an onion, every opportunity to button-mash the moral complexity button taken without making the main character and her love interest remotely unsympathetic. The main character and her love interest are profoundly adorable.

Basically just Flowers for Algernon with less sex in it and the strong implication that the main character's parents would have preferred the main character to have Down's instead of a less visible problem, since that's obvious at birth and you can commit infanticide about it.

A setting in which magic is discovered to be achievable if you log enough hours of sufficiently quality meditation, which was not discovered before because meditation is unpleasant and pointless-except-apparently-for-magic-powers; the discoverer was among the survivors of a crisis at a moon base who had to wait a long time for help and was trying to reduce their caloric and oxygen needs. They spend most of the book still on the moon - their powers don't help them leave, though they do help them survive there - and then go home to spend a few hours a week monetizing their abilities and otherwise relax in a huge house with their loved ones for the rest of their life.

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Malachitin

Awwwww. The romance novella is cute and Nela really enjoys it. Nihil obstat.

The middle-grade tragic fantasy novel gets an imprimatur for its thoughtful description of the process of hitting bottom, which would allow the reader to recognize in themself when they're in a similar desperate spiral. 

Genre-bender fantasy trilogy gets an imprimatur for its concrete focus on redemption and how to recover from doing something incredibly evil. Honestly, maybe they should fund a distribution of this to prison-monasteries.

Personal-biography gets an imprimatur for modeling healthy coping mechanisms for grief and sublimating your grief into creation. 

The concept of porn that is full of characterization and political intrigue and worldviews and moral conflict is far from new to Nela, and she issues it a nihil obstat without any particular concern. It will be shelved in the pornography section of the bookstore. 

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Green

Secrecy and censorship are in fact very bad! What a good, eloquent set of short stories making this important point. They can never think enough about how important it was to have developed freedom of speech. Nela gives it an imprimatur for the helpful reminder.

The evolutionary biology book is an interesting approach to Secret Textbooks. Why are the case studies anonymized? Why isn't this a non-secret textbook? Is it to protect the privacy of the people involved? Did they just make all the case studies up? Nela is very confused but gives it a nihil obstat, people expect fiction to be made up anyway.

Oh good, what a fascinating story about moral complexity! It's important to remember that everyone does things for reasons that seem good to them, and that conflicts are far more likely to be people behaving understandably given their situations than people being evil. Everyone's actions and beliefs have a core of validity, or else they wouldn't believe them or do them. It gets an imprimatur. 

The Flowers for Algernon-alike makes Nela want to throw up. They would just... murder a person? For being intellectually disabled? They would murder their own child? Of course everyone would prefer to have more intelligence, all things equal-- it's better to be able to understand more of the world, to have more of your curiosity satisfied-- but the main character doesn't seem to be primarily motivated by being able to understand more things about the world. They seem to be upset because people... mistreated them? For being intellectually disabled? Why would you even do that? It's not like intellectually disabled people chose to be intellectually disabled, and they make valuable contributions to society too. It's called the Law of Comparative Advantage. Do people in Green also mistreat other people for being born likely to have colds? She denies the book a nihil obstat for being pro-infanticide but really because the entire concept makes her want to vomit. She can't imagine any publisher deliberately choosing to publish this work. People would throw rocks through their windows. 

The meditation book is confusing to Nela. Surely everyone meditates, and some people do quite a lot? How do you fail to notice that meditation would lead to magic powers? It's like if walking in the wilderness gave you magic powers and someone discovered this by being stranded in the Antarctic. It gets a nihil obstat because books are not banned a nihil obstat for being deeply confusing. 

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A protagonist who has their head crushed diving in and throwing a child out of a collapsing building awakens in a magical university full of other dead people all from different worlds. The protagonist has a harem, sort of, but that's because everybody at the magical university is tangled up in an enormous polyamorous snarl that the book treats as a completely normal and sustainable state of affairs so long as everybody thinks and feels sensibly. Their initial apparent world is a lie, the world telling that lie is also a lie, and this goes on through six or possibly eight levels of recursion throughout the book. The plot builds to a climax that turns on an intricate point of decision theory. All of the prose is made entirely out of foreshadowing and the book is intended to be a completely different experience on the second reading. Background knowledge of economics, calculus, and linear algebra is required to follow along with the book's embedded lectures. A note attached by the translator says that they're not sure bestselling dath ilani novels would really be comprehensible to other worlds, so they picked one that was written by a random 32-year-old and shown only to her online writing tribe.

A slice-of-life story about a world where maleness and femaleness have been replaced by two new sexes corresponding to deontology and consequentialism, and it's considered very perverted for a deontologist to behave like a consequentialist or vice versa. There's a lot of 'kinky sex' constructed to be analogous to plausible ethical dilemmas. A note attached by the translator indicates that this book was written by a moderately bright 16-year-old asexual, and it's not uncommon for asexuals at that age to reimagine sex as something they think it would make sense for people to care about.

Dath ilan says that they carefully selected these books to be at a level of writing quality and intelligence that probably shouldn't prove too hazardous to other worlds, but they still recommend exposing a randomly selected audience to these and then observing them for 5 years to see if anything weird happens to them.

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dath ilan

Well, that's condescending! The Teachingsphere's residents are fully capable of deciding for itself whether the books are comprehensible to them, or alternately choosing to read books that don't make any sense. Anyway, good writing makes sense to more people, that's the thing that writing quality is. That's why all the most award-winning books are at least partially aimed at an audience of intellectually disabled people. Nela is saved from sending an angry letter about this by the fact that fourteen different people have probably sent dath ilan an angry letter already.

...okay admittedly the isekai is not, in fact, comprehensible to Nela, a person who quite enjoyed algebra in second school because she thought it was a puzzle but who was solidly in Middle for her Quant classes throughout school. She skips past all the lectures and expects that the fact-checker will cover the accuracy or lack thereof. It is, however, comprehensible enough to know that it should be denied a nihil obstat in the strongest possible terms. "The world is a lie" will lead to people having delusions that the world is a lie, and then they might have to go on antipsychotics, which is a horrible fate for anyone. It is just simply not allowed to make publicly available books that could be a secret coded message to the reader about how everyone they know is lying to them and only the author dares share the truth. 

The deontology/consequentialism book is cute, though. Imprimatur for teaching people about ethical dilemmas and how other worlds divide up ethics. Deontology versus consequentialism is kind of a confusing division to Nela, who after some technically-not-what-she-was-supposed-to-be-doing-in-work-hours research concludes that the Teaching is probably somewhere between "virtue ethics" and "objective list consequentialism," except that you're also not supposed to treat people as things, which is considered deontology even though to Nela it seems like it would be consequentialism, because you would want to minimize the amount of treating-people-as-things happening. It is very unclear to her

dath ilan doesn't need to worry. The Teachingsphere is fully aware of which books are going to cause them problems, which is why the isekai is going to their equivalent of the Shop of Ill-Advised Customer Goods.

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A work of interactive fiction, in which the player's character appears wandering in a starlit desert with no memory of where they came from or how they got here. After finding and exploring a nearby ruin, you eventually stumble upon a talking statue of a beautiful winged person, and although the statue is very shy at first, eventually you can coax enough information out of them to realize that they're some sort of powerful magical being who has been horribly abused by people using them for personal gain. You, too, can horribly abuse them and use them for personal gain; or you can use them for personal gain in less gratuitously awful ways that they still pretty clearly find traumatizing; or you can try to befriend them; or you can try to befriend them but in a sex way; or you can ignore them and try to figure out a way to escape the mysterious magical ruins by yourself. The descriptions of the statue's reactions to trauma are uncompromisingly realistic; the descriptions of the statue's reactions to genuine friendship and love are heartbreakingly sweet. The story has multiple possible endings, depending on your relationship with the statue and on whether you choose to escape the mysterious ruin or not, plus the implicit non-ending of simply never deciding to take an ending option; it is only possible to remove the statue from the ruins by force or with maximum trust levels, and if you do it by force the statue crumbles to dust as soon as they cross the outer wall.

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...uh is it possible to get a version of this game which is censored so that you can't abuse or traumatize or murder the statue?

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There isn't one currently published, but the creator says they'll think about it.

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Okay, Nela recommends that they hold publication for a while and wait to see if a censored version will come along. She would really like to give it an imprimatur but they really really really cannot give a nihil obstat to a video game where the player can choose to do bad things to sapient people. 

(Relatedly, Teachingsphere first-person shooters are a minority genre and involve killing explicitly nonsapient robots.)

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[sci-fi, drama, wish-fulfillment, aliens, self-modification]

Some scientists develop a prototype uploading process! Unfortunately, it only works on people with a specific rare genetic condition and then only with small probability. Very few people take the risk and the protagonist, Bopara(A), is the only person successfully uploaded. A takes advantage of A's new abilities to crowdfund a space probe body and go out exploring the galaxy at relativistic velocity (the setting has FTL gates, but you need to have a gate structure on both ends). Bopar finds various other planets and builds forks of Aself at each one, becoming a collection of increasingly psychologically bizarre explorers spreading out from earth in all directions. Some of them meet aliens(B) at various levels of intelligence, weird biology, and technological development and attempt to help B with B's problems with various levels of success and of culture clash. One species is r-selected and committed to wiping out all other life to support their expanding population; there are epic space battles and a technological arms race about it. Back on Earth, a supervolcano eruption disrupts the planet's climate; Earth is slowly becoming uninhabitable and the Bopara clan helps coordinate the evacuation to several colony planets barren of even moderately intelligent life.

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